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My latest VA “hire” didn’t cost me anything out of pocket.

This won’t work for every business and definitely has some downsides as well, but here’s how it worked.

One of my goals for the year was to make the most of the content I’d already created, to see if I could squeeze more traffic and revenue from these assets.

Among that content was my small portfolio of books on Amazon, which includes the Virtual Assistant Assistant book.

And while most of my titles already had a Kindle version and a paperback version, I’d never done an audiobook. According to several sources, audiobooks sell surprisingly well. I was curious to test it out for myself.

free audiobook narration

Project Options

That left me with at the top of the project decision tree, with some familiar choices:

  1. Record it myself.
  2. Hire a narrator.

But not having any track record of audiobook sales, I was hesitant to spend $700 or more on a professional audiobook production.

I briefly thought about doing it myself, since I already have a microphone and some audio editing experience, but thought it might be more fun (and more meta) to find a VA to record the VAA book.

That’s when I discovered, the “audiobook creation exchange,” which is owned by Amazon. One of their production options is to offer a revenue share with your narrator, meaning you can have a professional audiobook created for zero upfront cost.

I figured since every audiobook I sell will be incremental revenue anyway, I really had no problem splitting it with the narrator.

Finding a Free VA

I had a dozen different narrators audition for the VAA project, and ended up going with Scott from Buffalo, New York. The book is going through its final approval process now, and should be live on Amazon in the next couple weeks.

Hopefully it turns out to be a profitable venture for both Scott and I.

(At one point during the recording, Scott sent me a note about his moment of epiphany: “Wait, I’m the virtual assistant right now!”)

For future book projects, I’ll have a better idea of the sales pace and whether or not it makes financial sense to pay upfront–or to do it myself.

And while this profit sharing set-up really isn’t anything new, it’s the first time I’ve used it in the context of getting virtual work done.

Work for Equity?

I think it’s an interesting workaround for companies and entrepreneurs who may be idea rich, but cash poor. In fact, I came across a new platform that aims to connect startups with “equity workers” called

(Actually I heard the founder speak at our local TEDx event.)

The benefit for workers is the opportunity to work on interesting projects and have the potential for much greater payouts down the road if they can afford to forego that upfront cash.

One example the EquityDirectory founder gave was the painter who did a mural at Facebook’s headquarters, and opted to get paid in stock instead of cash. In the near-term, he lost out on his $60,000 fee, but today that stock his worth north of $200 million.

These kind of arrangements admittedly shift the risk to the employee, which frankly won’t be a great fit for everyone. If it makes you uncomfortable and you’d prefer to just pay someone for their time, there’s no harm in going that route.

Your Turn

What do you think?

Think there’s opportunity for a profit-sharing hire in your business?

Would you work “speculatively” on a project like this?

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